Politics/Law/Government

Pot. Kettle. Black: Hillary supporters accuse Bernie backers of privilege

Hillary Clinton & Bernie SandersWe’ve had two decades to get to know former First Lady, former Senator and former Secretary Clinton. We look at that history and we understand something you don’t: she isn’t one of us.

First, a caveat: this article is not about all Clinton voters. Many of you support her candidacy for reasons I don’t agree with, but you do so in good faith, and I can respect that. Instead, I’m addressing a narrow band of people who have badly overstepped themselves by advancing a line that is ill-informed, offensive and dangerously corrosive, to both their cause and mine. This is for them, in hopes that we can begin fostering more educated conversations based on fact and mutual respect.
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There’s an interesting new rhetorical wedge floating around in recent days. To wit: If you’re a Bernie Sanders supporter who’s unwilling to vote for Hillary Clinton if she secures the nomination, that’s privilege.

So, let’s make sure we fully understand the propostion:

  • If you point out that Clinton enabled George Bush’s illegal war on Iraq, and that she’s accountable for everything that happened as a result, that’s privilege.
  • If you, like me, aren’t willing to accept her apology because there was no excuse for the mistake in the first place, and further, you believe that this calls into question her judgment and her ability to distinguish between basic evidence and ginned-up neo-con smoke-and-mirrors, that’s privilege.
  • If you point to her record as Secretary of State and note her central role in setting and stoking flaming grease fires in places like Syria, that’s privilege.
  • If you point to her support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (which she may or may not have backtracked on – at this stage I’m not sure what she really thinks), that’s privilege.
  • When you point out that she doesn’t think we need to bring back Glass-Steagall – which her husband helped kill and which paved the way for the greatest financial meltdown since the Great Depression – that’s privilege.
  • Likewise, calling attention to her support – or maybe not – of the Keystone Pipeline, that’s privilege.
  • If you point out that her support for marriage equality was preceded by 20 years or so of unambiguous opposition to it (and that she flipped only once the polls hit a tipping point), that’s privilege.
  • If you call everyone’s attention to her recent AIPAC performance and suggest that she’s hawkish even by Republican standards, that’s privilege.
  • If you remind people that she’s a big fan of war criminal Henry Kissinger, that’s privilege.
  • If you point out that she supported the Patriot Act, that’s privilege.
  • If you look at her recent praise of Nancy Reagan on AIDS and wonder what the fuck she was thinking, that’s privilege. I mean, it’s good that she apologized, but still, is this one where a presidential candidate should have to?
  • If you look at her history and count up all the times her positions on important issues have changed, and that this often happens when the winds of public opinion shift, and that all of these cases are easily documented, that’s privilege.
  • If you look at all the cash she’s taken from Wall St. and are suspicious about her commitment to getting the financial sector under control, that’s privilege.
  • If you look at her claims to experience and success and insist on actual examples of real accomplishments, that’s privilege.
  • If you elaborate on all the ways in which she is unarguably to the right of Richard Nixon, I suppose that’s privilege, too.

Well, that’s one theory. Here’s another one.

Maybe you can dismiss Iraq, Syria and her unabashed fluffing of Israel – after all, you’re safe here in the American Empire.

Maybe you can forgive that an alleged liberal spent a couple decades in opposition to full equality for gays and lesbian, especially if you’re straight.

Maybe you’re not overly compelled by the TPP – the Asian version of NAFTA. Maybe you’re okay with the fact that she’s on the right side of Keystone now.

Maybe when it comes to corporate campaign donations you can rationalize that taking millions of dollars doesn’t necessarily make you beholden to the people paying the freight.

But from where I sit, there’s a term for all this: privilege.

You have granted yourself the freedom to rise above all this data, all this sheer evidence. As so many did with Obama before her, you have massaged yourself into the belief that what a person has done before has no predictive value for what he or she will do once elected. Because once she’s in office, she won’t have to play the game anymore – she can finally be who she has always secretly been.

And so from this lofty, faux-pragmatic perch you lecture those who look at her actual record and her actual policies and her actual statements with more than a little unease.

Of course we don’t want President Trump (or Cruz, or Rubio, or Kasich, or Ryan), but you make a critical mistake in how you formulate the equation. You think: how can we possibly be so petty as to turn our backs on one of our own who, even though we don’t love her, is still a lot better than the alternative?

The problem is that we have had two decades to get to know former First Lady, former Senator and former Secretary Clinton. We look at that history and we understand something you don’t acknowledge: she isn’t one of us. She isn’t a liberal. She isn’t even vaguely progressive, at least not by the standards of the progressives we know. In pre-1980 terms, she’s a mainline establishment Republican. She isn’t on our side. She can be counted on to nominate a Supreme Court justice who will support reproductive rights, but … beyond that, what does her record suggest she can be trusted to do right?

We have a lot of Clinton supporters these days who present themselves as realists, and I love realism. But the way I see it, the first thing a would-be realist has to do is acknowledge reality.

I know a lot of folks see us Sanders supporters as a bunch of barking pixie-dust snorting moonbats. But the simple fact is that there are a lot of verifiable reasons, based in demonstrable fact, for opposing the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. And I suspect I’m not the only one who’s a little tired of having his intelligence insulted by those too privileged to acquaint themselves with the woman’s actual record.

I’m damned annoyed with you right now, but don’t think you’re a bad person. Odds are I’d probably really like you and we’d get on great. I understand why you feel the way you do. I think we all, over here in Moonbatland, have experienced plenty of ambivalence and have argued with ourselves, in good faith, over the points you make. I know I have. I also suspect that if Clinton is the nominee in November a lot of our number will hold our noses and vote for her because we remember Reagan and Bush and we look at Trump and Cruz and think hell, these nuts are actually worse.

But you don’t make that more likely when you accuse us of privilege. That’s more hypocrisy than I, for one, can bear.

12 replies »

  1. “I know a lot of folks see us Sanders supporters as a bunch of barking pixie-dust snorting moonbats.” Best description ever! I like living in Moonbatland. It’s a lovely, progressive place to live.

  2. I don’t think that anyone who was friends with Vince Foster will be casting a Hillary vote. From a couple of friends from Arkansas, who knew the Clintons, we only know the tip of the ugly iceberg. Once again, it will be a sad day in the voting booth, staring at names that represent bad and worse. I was really hoping for an exciting Election Day this year. Not gonna happen.

  3. Having read this and the original at Quartz, I hate to say it that the Quartz author has a point buried in her rant. There has been a concerted anti-Hillary media effort that has turned a huge number of people against her. And as with every politician she’s a mix of good and bad, awesome and horrible. And I don’t doubt for a moment that there are elements of sexism and yes, even subconscious privilege, in some peoples’ hatred of Hillary.

    But as you enumerate above, there are plenty of perfectly logical reasons to reject Hillary as a candidate. And the Quartz author is painting with FAR too broad a brush, tarring everyone who dislikes Clinton with a term that too often shuts down discussion instead of inviting it. I’d guess that she was about as annoyed with irrational anti-Hillary folk when she wrote that as you were with her when you wrote this.

    I’ve been privy to a number of progressive Sanders vs. Hillary arguments lately, and I can assure you that there is as much sloppy thinking (or at least what seems like sloppy thinking to me) and lack of self-awareness among supporters and opponents of both candidates.

    Unfortunately, I’m not sure that posts like yours or hers help much (although yours is more civil than most other anti-Hillary rants I’ve read). I suspect that, with some research, I could come up with a similar list of non-progressive reasons not to vote for any liberal President or Presidential candidate. Heck, I could probably come up with a list of liberal reasons to vote for most conservative Presidents, although that would be a greater challenge.

    • Unfortunately, I’m not sure that posts like yours or hers help much

      Maybe not. But as you note, I have a defensible point, and I’m sick of people a) ignoring facts, and b) insulting me. If you want to talk down to me, lecture me, wag your finger at me, etc., you damned well need to make sure you’re coming from an informed perspective. This isn’t a personal issue, either. If you think Sanders supporters should vote for Hillary in the fall, you’re not doing yourself any favors by alienating them and treating them like idiots.

      This is … what’s the word I’m looking for here? … ah: pragmatic.

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